Me and my health: Charlie Lawson on his lifestyle
The 60-year-old actor is originally from Enniskillen, but lives in Prestbury, Cheshire, with his partner Debbie. He has one daughter and is backing the Stroke Association #RebuildingLives campaign.
Q: Do you take regular exercise and if so, what?
A: Over the winter, I'm a game shooter, and I shoot most weekends so that involves a lot of walking. I walk with the dogs every day and I ride quite a lot - I guess you could call that exercise. In the summer I play golf. I used to go to the gym regularly, but that went out the window about 10 years ago.
Q: What is the worst illness you've had?
A: I'm never, ever ill - I've never been in 60 years. But I had a TIA (transient ischaemic attack) at one stage last year - its called a mini-stroke. I'm absolutely fine - never been better. I was fine after 15 minutes and only had to cancel two shows. It was diagnosed as complete and utter exhaustion. I hadn't slept in seven weeks and when that happens, something's got to go bang.
Apart from that, I am never ill - I can't even remember the last time I had a cold. I've got the constitution of a shorthorn steer, that's what my doctor says.
Q: How healthy is your diet?
A: My diet is pretty damn healthy. When Debbie had the farm shop we had a lot of fresh veg and we ate a lot of game - venison, pheasant, partridge. We are meat lovers, committed to eating meat, but we eat a lot of fresh veg and fruit and wash it down with copious amounts of red wine - that's very good for you!
Q: Any bad habits?
A: I probably drink too much red wine! When we are in the Europa Hotel, I have a huge Ulster fry but I don't think one or two of those a week does you any harm.
Q: Do you drink and smoke/ if so how much?
A: I drink a lot of red wine but I'm not telling you how much. And I don't smoke. I gave up smoking 10 years ago virtually to the day. I started when I was 13 or 14. I remember I had a very long year of filming - I hadn't had a break for about two years and I didn't feel that good. When I went for my annual MOT, the doctor said, "We should put you in a taxi and send you to the hospital now", because of my blood pressure. I smoked 20 Gitanes a day and I threw them in the bin - I've never had one since. Giving up was quite hard, but only for about a month. The difference was palpable in about six or seven months. In my fitness test a year later, I passed with flying colours, so you can get better, which I'm thrilled about really. It's the best thing I've ever done in my life.
Q: Do you take any supplements?
A: We've got a permanent box of Redoxon, the vitamin C stuff. Debbie is very good at taking supplements but I just bung one of those in a glass of water every day.
Q: How do you take time out?
A: As an actor I'm very lucky - you can either have no time out for two years or you can have six months with plenty of time out. It's not like being a nurse or a doctor. We are actors - we pretend to be someone else for a living - it's not difficult at all. I think dogs are my time out. I'm a countryman - I live in the countryside and I've spent a lot of time enjoying country sports. I've never been without dogs in my life. Our lives revolve around the countryside and dogs, although we love to go on holiday as well.
Q: How well do you sleep?
A: I could sleep better. I used to be able to sleep on a tightrope. But the older you get, for some reason, I don't really know why but I sleep less now. But it doesn't bother me.
Q: Do you worry about getting old?
A: Absolutely not. I've been close to death - my ex-wife died and I had to identify her body so I've lived and talked about life and death. We grew up surrounded by pain and horror and life and death and I've never shied away from it. As Christians we don't talk about death enough and we should be talking about it all the time. I don't worry about getting older - it's sure as hell going to get me, but nothing has happened to me so far. I'm still as strong as an ox. So far, life has been good.
Q: What is your go-to product that keeps you feeling healthy?
A: I drink a lot of water and I eat good food. I enjoy life and people would say I enjoy it too much, so I'd be the wrong person to follow if you're on a health kick.
Charlie Lawson is currently working with Visualize Films on a project about the Royal Irish Fusiliers and is backing the Stroke Association's new #RebuildingLives campaign. TV ads have been running throughout October in the run-up to World Stroke Day (today), featuring six survivors describing how their stroke felt. Find about more about the campaign at https://www.stroke.org.uk/rebuilding-lives linda stewart